National Human Trafficking Awareness Day sheds light on
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The state of Florida is ranked third in the nation for human trafficking. It’s a reality that law enforcement and Suncoast organizations like Selah Freedom are fighting to minimize.
Jan. 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, puts a spotlight on education and awareness. Selah Freedom’s Executive Director Stacey Efaw says every day should be Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. According to the U.S Department of Homeland Security, thousands of cases of human trafficking are reported each year.
Many of those cases involve sex trafficking exists, it is not the only type of human trafficking. Forced labor is another type of human trafficking; both involve exploitation of people. Victims are found in legitimate and illegitimate labor industries, including sweatshops, massage parlors, agriculture, restaurants, hotels and domestic service, DHS said.
In October 2020, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody helped launch Highway Heroes, a campaign to help educate Florida’s half-million licensed commercial drivers how to spot and report suspected human trafficking on our roads. Moody’s office told ABC7 that since the program began, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department has trained more than 4,000 commercial drivers.
“Through our Highway Heroes program, we have enlisted thousands of trucking industry and law enforcement professionals in Florida who are committed to serving as the eyes and ears of our highways. We are grateful for them, and safer because of them,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry Rhodes.
Beginning today, the state is taking part in a three-day initiative to engage with commercial drivers by handing out Truckers Against Trafficking informational wallet cards.
As a part of helping the state combat human trafficking state leaders are asking anyone who suspects human trafficking to report it, with as much detail as possible. Information helpful in these circumstances include:
- Descriptions of cars or trucks (make, model, color, license plate, truck and/or USDOT number.) and people (height, weight, hair color, eye color, age.) Take a picture if possible.
- Specific times and dates (When did you see the event in question take place? What day was it?)
- Addresses and locations where suspicious activity took place.
- Be sure to tell them you suspect human trafficking, not prostitution.
Report Human Trafficking
The National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
The U.S. Department of Justice Hotline: 1-888-428-7581
Florida Abuse Hotline: 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)
Local Authorities: 911 or *FHP (*347)
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